Wednesday, July 31, 2013

couscous with onion, cucumber and red pepper

I like grilling fish or chicken for dinner. Sometimes the LAM would grill a steak or lamb chops, which I love too. But I do not always want to have potatoes to go with my chicken or steak, especially on days when I just want something that is not too heavy.

This is when I would make couscous, especially this one which is made with raw vegetables and herbs.

Couscous is amazingly easy to make. There is no cooking involved if you use raw vegetables like I did.

To start, I measured the couscous and placed it into a bowl. I added boiling water, covered the bowl with cling film (make sure the bowl is completely covered) and set it aside for 5 minutes.

In the meantime, I diced the vegetables and chopped the herbs.

At the end of the required 5 minutes, I removed the cling film, and using a fork (no spoons, please!!), I fluffed the couscous.

The herbs and vegetables were added, as well as the extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and salt and pepper.

Once everything was mixed together, the couscous was ready to be served. Or you can chill it in the fridge (covered) until needed.

LOVE IT!!! :)

Couscous With Onion, Cucumber and Red Pepper  (Serves 4)

1 cup couscous
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1 Japanese cucumber, peeled and cut into small pieces
1/2 red pepper, de-seeded and cut into small pieces
1/2 red onion, diced
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 bunch coriander, chopped
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place couscous in a bowl. Pour boiling water over couscous. Cover with cling film and set aside.
2. After about 5 minutes, remove cling film.
3. Using a fork, fluff the couscous.
4. Add all ingredients, and season to taste.
5. Serve immediately, or keep chilled in fridge until needed.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

chinese style chicken chop

So, I tried making Spicy Chicken with Honey from  "A Taste of Home" by Andrew Kow, and flushed with my success as it was super delicious, I decided to try another recipe from the same book.

As usual, I pick recipes according to (1) what I feel like eating; (2) what is available in my fridge/ freezer/ pantry; and (3) how much time I have to fiddle around with the ingredients.

Since building on my repertoire of chicken dishes is pretty high on my to-do list, I decided I had to make a chicken dish. Hence, I picked this recipe.

I rarely use char siu sauce when I cook. I am not even sure why I have a tub of char siu sauce lurking in my pantry, but I do. It was the char siu sauce that made this dish in the end. The LAM noticed the difference immediately but could not fathom what the "secret" ingredient was. "It tastes like teriyaki sauce gone wrong," he said. LOL. The sauce gives the dish a smoky flavour like teriyaki sauce does, but it is definitely more distinctive. Delish, I say!

At least an hour prior to cooking, marinate the chicken. I used boneless thighs and marinated them for half a day. The flavour improves the longer you marinate. I left my chicken thighs whole and the skin was left on for photography purposes only. So by all means, remove the skin and cut the chicken in smaller pieces before cooking.

In a bowl, I placed the chicken pieces. I added light and dark soy sauces, five spice powder, Shaoxing wine and salt.

I covered the bowl with cling film and left the chicken in the fridge to marinate.

I started by frying the chicken thighs oil until they turned golden brown. They were then drained on kitchen towels.

In a bowl, I whisked together oyster sauce, plum sauce, pepper, Shaoxing wine, dark soy sauce, char siew sauce, sesame oil and water.

Once all the thighs had been cooked, I heated the wok and added the sauces. Then I placed the chicken pieces into the sauce and covered the wok to braise until they were cooked through.

Once the chicken was cooked through, I thickened the sauce with a tapioca flour slurry and the dish was ready to be served!

Chinese Style Pork Chop (Serves 8)
Adapted from recipe by Andrew Kow in "Taste of Home"

6 chicken thighs, skin removed, and cut into smaller pieces if desired
2 tsp tapioca flour, mixed with 2 tsp water to form a slurry

3 tbs light soy sauce
1 tbs dark soy sauce
1 tbs Shaoxing wine
1 tsp five spice powder
1/2 tsp salt (optional)

2 tbs oyster sauce
3 tbs plum sauce
1 tbs Shaoxing wine
1 tbs char siew sauce
1/2 tbs dark soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp grounded white pepper
1 cup water

1. Season chicken, cover bowl with cling film and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to one day.
2. Fry chicken in hot oil until they turn golden brown. Drain and set aside.
3. Place seasoning in a bowl. Whisk to combine.
4. Heat wok, add seasoning and chicken. Braise chicken until the chicken is cooked through.
5. Thicken gravy with a tapioca flour slurry.
6. Serve immediately, with rice.

Monday, July 29, 2013

dakdoritang (닭도리탕): korean stewed chicken with potatoes

I was at the pub with the LAM on our night off the other week and we started chatting with two women who were sitting at the next table. One topic led on to another and we started talking about Korean food.

One of the women mentioned that she loved this Korean stew with chicken and potatoes that tastes a little like a Japanese curry. I asked her if it was Dakdoritang, and with the help of our best friend, dear Google, we were indeed able to pin-point that yes, she was describing Dakdoritang!

I told her that I knew how to cook the dish, and promised that I would write a post about it on my blog soon. So here it is.

There are many, many versions of how to cook dakdoritang. It is a stew, so in reality, you can add any meat or vegetables you like and it would still work. My version is a simple one, and you can adjust the taste by adding more or less of any ingredient.

In a heated saucepan, or a pot if you are cooking a bigger portion, add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the minced garlic and saute the garlic for about 30 seconds.

Add the water, gochujang and deonjang. If you like it really spicy, add some Korean red pepper powder as well!


The liquid was brought to a boil, and the chicken, carrot and potato were added.

This was simmered for about 10 minutes. The scum that floated to the surface was regularly skimmed off.

The rest of the ingredients were then added.

Finally, I added the sesame oil, sugar and salt. And the stew was simmered for another 5 minutes or so, and it was ready to be served!

Serve the stew hot, with rice.

Or eat it on its own.

Either way, it is one delicious and comforting dish.

Dakdoritang (Serves 4)
Adapted from

500g boneless chicken thigh, cut into smaller pieces
4 medium potatoes,peeled and cut into quarters
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 medium onion,peeled and cut into wedges
5-6 napa cabbage leaves, washed and cut
1 medium green bell pepper,cut into smaller pieces (I used green chilli)
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp gochujang (red chili pepper paste)
2 tbsp doenjang (fermented from soybeans)
2 liter water
2 tbsp sesame oil (I used the Korean sesame oil - it is more pungent)
salt to taste
Korean red pepper powder to taste (optional)

1. Use a stock pot with oil and garlic at medium high heat.
2. Saute garlic for 30 seconds before adding water, gochujang and doenjang. Add pepper powder if you like the stew to be extra spicy.
3. Bring liquid to boil, add potato, carrot and chicken.
4. Simmer for 10 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients, sugar and sesame oil.
5. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add salt to taste.
6. Serve warm with steamed white rice.

Friday, July 26, 2013

ricotta cheesecake with roasted balsamic strawberry

I have been meaning to make this cake for a while. No reason except that I am fascinated with the idea of using ricotta in a cheesecake. I have used ricotta to make pasta dishes and I found that I really like the taste as it is milder than most cheeses, so when I came across this recipe, I was more than willing to give it a try.

But, as usual, there had been so many things to be done. I bought two tubs of ricotta when I saw that they were on sale and they have been taking up a corner of my fridge for uhm, quite some time. I have finally reached the stage where I had to either use them, or chuck them into the garbage bin. As it is really against my principle to throw out food, I trotted out to buy strawberries.

It is possible to make cheesecakes even if you do not have a food processor, but of course, life is much easier if you have one.

I began by making the base for the cheesecake. I broke up pieces of digestive biscuits and placed them in my food processor.

Using the pulse function, I blitzed the biscuits until they became fine crumbs.

If you do not have a food processor, place the biscuits in a bag and bash them with a rolling pin.

Then I added the melted and cooled butter, and blitzed again.

The biscuit crumbs were transferred into a greased and lined Springform pan, and pressed down with the base of a flat-bottom glass.

This was placed in the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes.

In the mean time, I placed the ricotta cheese (you may need to drain the cheese if there is a lot of water), cream cheese, strawberry jam and lemon zest into the bowl of the food processor.

Again, using the pulse button, I processed the cheeses, jam and zest until the mixture became relatively smooth.

I mixed the corn starch with water and added that to the mixture.

Then I added the eggs.

In the end, the mixture should be smooth.

The mixture was poured on top of the chilled biscuit crumbs, and the cake was baked for an hour. After an hour, turn off the oven, but leave the cake in the oven for another hour or so to allow it to continue to cook.

The cake will rise while it is in the oven, but sink again later, so do not panic.

Chill the cheesecake for a couple of hours (minimum). Once you are ready to serve the cake, place the strawberries on top of the cake.

The cheesecake by itself was already delicious, but since I had plans to bring this cake for an informal gathering at a friend's place, I thought I would roast some strawberries to go with it.

Strawberries in Singapore ain't cheap, But there are times when the berries go on sale. So I would buy quite a few boxes, and roast them. Once roasted, I can use them as a topping for cakes, ice-cream, yoghurt, to add on to oats or muesli for breakfasts. They are really versatile, and the berries can be kept in the fridge for about 5 days so you get a longer shelf life out of them.

All that aside, strawberries and balsamic make magic when they are placed together, and roasting serves to bring out the sweetness in the strawberries, so it is a win-win situation, whichever way you want to look at it!

To start, I washed then trimmed and sliced the strawberries into halves.

I added the brown sugar and balsamic vinegar and tossed the strawberries so they were all coated.

The strawberries were placed onto a heat-proof dish in a single layer. They were then baked for about 15 minutes.

Once cooled, store them in the fridge until they are needed.

It was not easy, but I tried not to eat them all at once. I do need them to top my cheesecake (this time) after all!

Ricotta Cheesecake With Roasted Balsamic Strawberries (Serves 8-10)
Adapted from recipe by


For the cheesecake
250g digestive biscuits
80g butter, melted and cooled
350g cream cheese, softened
500g ricotta, drained
1 cup strawberry jam
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
4 eggs
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tbsp water, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 165°C, grease and line the base of a 9" round springform tin.
2. Place digestive biscuits in a food processor and pulse until they are broken down to even crumbs.
3. Add butter and pulse to combined.
4. Press into the base of your prepared tin and chill in fridge for 30 mins.
5. Place cream cheese, ricotta, strawberry jam and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth.
6. Mix water and cornflour together in a separate bowl until smooth and then add the mixture and the eggs to the food processor bowl, pulse until combined.
7. Pour mixture over the chilled base and bake for an hour. The edges should be just golden and the centre might still be wobbly.
8. Do not remove cheesecake from oven, turn off the heat and keep the door closed and allow the cheesecake to rest in the oven for another hour. Then remove from the oven and sit in tin on a wire rack until completely cool.

For the strawberries
500g fresh strawberries
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1. Hull and halve the berries and then place in a single layer in an oven-proof dish.
2. Preheat oven to 200°C.
3. Add brown sugar to berries and toss to coat.
4. Pour over balsamic and toss again.
5. Place in oven for 10-15 minutes, berries should be softened and the glaze will thicken as it cools.
6. Set aside to cool completely, then remove cheesecake from tin and top with berries before serving. Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge overnight (if not serving immediately keep the strawberries separate until ready to serve).

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